Republicans & Democrats Agree: U.S. Security Demands Global Climate Action

For years, America’s intelligence community and armed services have recognized climate change as a threat to U.S. national security – shaping a world that is more unstable, resource-constrained, violent, and disaster-prone. This issue is critically important to the world’s most experienced security planners. The impacts are real, and the costs of inaction are unacceptable. America’s elected leaders and private sector must think past tomorrow to focus on this growing problem, and take action at home and abroad.

The U.S. Department of Defense has defined climate change as a global threat multiplier – exacerbating instigators of conflict such as resource disputes, ethnic tensions, and economic discontent. Operationally, they see its potential to prevent access to their workforce, degrade the security of installations, impede training and readiness, and impair force capacity. Through proactive efforts, the DoD is setting an example for preparedness. As a nation, we need to do the same here and overseas.

At this moment in history, the U.S. must grab the mantle of global leadership to engage other nations and overcome this challenge. Combating the consequential national security dangers posed by the changing climate cannot be done alone. American leaders must enlist international partners to ensure that all countries do their fair share. For twenty years, the U.S. has asserted that this is a global problem that will require global solutions. Now, with crucial actors like China, Brazil, and Mexico making earnest commitments, we have an opportunity to advance that approach.

The U.S. has always led on big global challenges. We must tackle this threat by mobilizing the strength and ingenuity of the U.S. government and business community to seek effective, financially-sound approaches. This takes public and private sector expertise, funding, and coordination. We can ensure a prosperous future for our nation by shoring up resilience and mitigation efforts at home, assisting vulnerable partners abroad, and planning past tomorrow – where Americans will live with the decisions of today.

A responsible approach to managing climate risk requires us to transcend the political issues that divide us – by party, region, and ideology – and implement an effective strategy that can endure and succeed. Our national security community is thinking seriously and planning long term. It is time for the country’s elected leaders to join them in doing the same.

Signatories:

Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State 1997-2001
Birch Bayh, Jr., US Senator (D-IN) 1963-81
Samuel Berger, National Security Advisor 1997-2001
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor 1977-81
Nicholas Burns, Undersecretary of State 2005-08
William Cohen, Secretary of Defense 1997-2001, US Senator (R-ME) 1979-97
Norm Coleman, US Senator (R-MN) 2003-09
John C. Danforth, US Senator (R-MO) 1976-95, US Ambassador to the UN 2004-05
Bob Ehrlich, Governor (R-MD) 2003-07
Thomas Fingar, Chairman, National Intelligence, Council 2005-08
GEN Douglas Fraser, USAF (Ret.), Commander, US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)
Marc Grossman, Undersecretary of State 2001-05
Carlos M. Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce 2005-09
Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense 2013-15, US Senator (R-NE) 1997-2009
Lee Hamilton, US Congressman (D-IN) 1965-99, Vice Chair, 9/11 Commission
Gary Hart, US Senator (D-CO) 1975-87
Rita Hauser, Chair, International Peace Institute, 1992-present
Carla Hills, U.S. Trade Representative 1989-93
GEN Donald J. Hoffman, USAF (Ret.)¸Commander, US Air Force Materiel Command 2008-12
Nancy Kassebaum-Baker, US Senator (R-KS) 1978-97
Thomas Kean, Governor (R-NJ) 1982-90, Chair, 9/11 Commission
GEN Ron Keys, USAF (Ret.), Commander in Chief, Air Combat Command 2005-07
Carl Levin, US Senator (D-MI) 1979-2015
Joseph Lieberman, US Senator (I-CT) 1989-2013
ADM Samuel J. Locklear III, USN (Ret.) Commander, US Pacific Command (PACOM) 2012-15
ADM James Loy, USC (Ret.), Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security 2003-05, US Coast Guard Commandant 1998-2002
Richard Lugar, US Senator (R-IN) 1977-2013
VADM Mike McConnell, USN (Ret.), Director of National Intelligence 2007-09
Robert McFarlane, National Security Advisor 1983-85
Donald McHenry, US Ambassador to the UN 1979-81
Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security 2009-13, Governor (D-AZ) 2003-09
Paul O’Neill, Secretary of the Treasury 2001-02
Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense 2011-13
Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury 2006-09
Thomas Pickering, Undersecretary of State 1997-2000
Mark S. Schweiker, Governor (R-PA) 2001-03
George Shultz, Secretary of State 1982-89
Gordon H. Smith, US Senator (R-OR) 1997-2009
Olympia Snowe, US Senator (R-ME) 1995-2013
Richard H. Solomon, President, US Institute of Peace 1993-2012
GEN Gordon R. Sullivan, US Army (Ret.), US Army 32nd Chief of Staff 1991-95
Frances Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor 2004-08
GEN Charles Wald, USAF (Ret.) Deputy Commander, US European Command (EUCOM) 2002-06
GEN Larry D. Welch, USAF (Ret.) US Air Force 12th Chief of Staff 1986-90
Christine Todd Whitman, Governor (R-NJ) 1994-2001, EPA Administrator 2001-03
Frank Wisner, Undersecretary of State 1992-93
R. James Woolsey, Director of Central Intelligence 1993-95, Chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
GEN Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), Commander in Chief, US Central Command (CENTCOM) 1997-2000